Who actually eats fruitcake? Someone is bound to. Someone must like it.
My bank hauls out what appears to be the very same bricks of Claxton Fruit cake every Christmas. I ask them, “Are these the same ones y’all had up here last year?”
“Oh! No!,” they assure me. “We get them fresh every year. Would you like to buy one?”
“No! No!,” I said. “I don’t want one, but I still think these are the same ones you had out here last year. Do you put them in the back and haul them out after Thanksgiving every year.”
“Mr. Sharp, you are too funny,” says Theresa, the very helpful and extremely competent assistant manager at the branch bank at which I do nearly all my business. I wasn’t trying to be funny. If Theresa thinks these are fresh fruitcakes, then it is because the home office collects them and returns them to the branches every Christmastime. I think I am on to something. Theresa thinks I am a little touched, but she is kind to me anyway.
“We sell lots of them,” said Theresa. “You’d be surprised how many people like fruitcake.”
“I expect the people who buy them are giving them as presents to those they don’t really like. Once you put one of these in circulation, it could last for years. One might even get his own fruitcake back.” I speculated about this. I wondered about it.
“Who is benefiting from their sale and how much are they?” I asked.
“The Meridian Civitan Club,” she said. “All the local banks participate.” I didn’t know this since I hardly ever go into another bank. “They are six dollars, with half the money going to the Civitan club.” I peeled off a ten and two ones and handed them to her. She smiled and hustled over to get me two of the fruitcakes.
“I don’t want the fruitcakes,” I said. “Just give all the twelve dollars to the Civitan Club.”
“You mean you don’t want the fruitcakes?” she asked.
“No. Just to donate to the Civitan Club. You and the other girls can share the fruitcakes if you want, or you can give them to another customer.”
“None of us will eat them,” she said. “None of us here like fruitcake.”
“Well, then, give them to someone who does,” I said.
“That will be hard to do,” she says back. “We sell very few of them.”
“I thought you just told me you sell a lot of them,” I said.
“Oh, the bank does, but we hardly sell any at this branch.”
“Well, give them to me. We’ll take at least two of them out of circulation,” I said.
I walked out of the door to my truck with two of the one pound fruitcakes under my arm. Though it was only two pounds worth, it felt like ten. They were plastic wrapped, with the density of lead, but had a springy sort of texture, like pieces of an old, dust-mite filled mattress. I placed them on the ground side by side and stood on them. There was a softness under my feet that felt quite comfortable. “They would make good replacement shoe insoles,” I said, surprised by this discovery, wondering how long they’d last until the began to decompose, thinking that perhaps they’d never decompose, because I’ve never seen a moldy fruitcake, or a spoiled fruitcake. They are as durable as some McDonald’s fries that found their way onto the floorboard of your car. They are as durable as Twinkies.
I picked them up off the pavement, took one of them, and bounced it on its end on the pavement. While not quite as bouncy as a superball, it bounced remarkably high. I caught it on the way up. “Hmmmm!” I said to myself. A plan was developing.
I thought of a spinster aunt of mine, one who was so frugal as to recycle old Christmas gifts and Christmas cards. Surely she would like the fruitcake, since anything she got for free was bound to be used and used up. I also thought about the “Dirty Santa” game we would play at the Church Christmas party. I was all set for Aunt Margaret’s Christmas gift and for the Church party. The fruitcake was perfect for both . . . after all, it is the thought that counts, isn’t it?
Ever since I mentioned Fruitcake and how I don’t like it, folks have been telling me that I just haven’t eaten THEIR fruitcake, which no doubt, I will truly enjoy if I could just have a single taste of it. I have eaten fruitcake that I thought was less bad than other fruitcake, but none that I enjoyed, since it is fruitcake, and I don’t like fruitcake. At best, their wonderful fruitcake will be less bad than others . . . but being less bad will not mean that I like it.
I once said that I did not like calf’s liver. The person to whom I said that declared, “Well, you have not eaten MY calf’s liver. It is delicious far beyond any other.”
“But it’s made of calf’s liver, and I don’t like calf’s liver. How it’s cooked cannot change the fact that it’s calf’s liver, which I do not like.” I protested.
“But mine is smothered in thick gravy and onions . . . and when it’s fresh and sliced thin, you’ll love it,” they said.
“If you leave out the calf’s liver I might,” I said. I also thought that the fresh, thinly sliced calf’s liver would taste less bad than calf’s liver that had set out in the sun for a bit too long, but I cannot be sure. Rancidity may improve the taste of calf’s liver. Understand that less bad and liking are a long way apart. It is the same way with fruitcake. I do not like it. It is not that I don’t like your fruitcake; It’s that I don’t like fruitcake. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t like it. In fact, you can have my piece, too.
I found a really good recipe for fruitcake on the internet the other day. You might want to try it.
BUBBA’S DOWN-HOME RUM-SOAKED FRUITCAKE
1. All the usual fruitcake fixin’s
2. Rum (750ml bottle of the rum of your choice)
3. Mix ingredients in large bowl and pour into cake pan
4. Preheat oven to 325 Degrees
5. Drink some of the Rum
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes
7. Drink some more of Rum while waiting
8. When done, take outside and feed everything (except Rum) to the Chickens
9. Drink the rest of the rum, then take a nap
When you awaken from your nap, you can call your friends and tell them how wonderful you fruitcake was. I’m sure they will all want to hear about it.